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Derek Stepan signed a two-year $6.15 million contract extension with the Rangers on Thursday. He was the last of the big name restricted free agents to sign so there will be no major hold-outs going into the season.
Glen Sather was quite adamant that Stepan sign a bridge contract, which is his M.O. The only Rangers RFA that I can think of who didn’t sign a bridge contract was Ryan McDonagh this summer and he is basically their franchise defenseman.
Anyhow, Stepan’s contract is great news for fantasy owners in all league types. It will be interesting to see what Vigneault does now that he has three top-six centermen to work with. If last season is any indication, Brad Richards will be on the outside looking in – especially with how good Derrick Brassard has looked in the pre-season. Monitor the minutes and linemates of these three to see who is coming out ahead.
Tim Thomas has officially signed with the Florida Panthers for the year. This was pretty much a foregone conclusion. With Scott Clemmensen hurt there was little competition for the position. Still, Thomas is a fierce competitor and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he was in tremendous shape and ready to put up a great season.
Thomas will start at least 50 games this season as Jacob Markstrom probably isn’t ready to start full time. Thomas could be really good too as I suspect the Panthers will be friskier than one might think this season. I don’t think they are a playoff team as they rely too much on their youngsters but there is enough talent there to be competitive on a nightly basis and with Thomas as a legitimate starter they should be much improved over the disaster they were last season (last in the league in goals allowed).
You shouldn’t draft Thomas very high but he makes a great sleeper if you can poach him at the right time.
After all of yesterday’s speculation Jake Allen was sent back to the AHL by the Blues. I stand by what I said, though.
Allen makes a great sleeper for this season if you have the room. Brian Elliott is so erratic that the Blues shouldn’t count on him and Jaroslav Halak is much better and he’s been pretty injury prone. I would count on seeing Allen at some point this season.
The Habs cut Nathan Beaulieu and Gabriel Dumont on Thursday but apparently Michael Bournival and Jared Tinordi will make the opening day roster.
Bournival has very modest upside and will be a fourth-liner given the Habs’ depth up front.
Tinordi has more upside although at this point mostly in Hits/PIM leagues.
He was probably not going to make the team anyway but Sabres prospect Joel Armia is out indefinitely with a broken hand. Look for him next year.
Could Joakim Nordstrom actually make the Blackhawks roster?
Ultimately, it still has to be considered a long shot for Nordstrom to actually be in the Hawks' lineup on opening night. He has been solid during the preseason, but he only has one goal on five shots, four hits, and two blocked shots in four games. Those numbers aren't exactly jump-off-the-statsheet good, but
Quenneville and his staff could see something in him that Hawks scribes don't, and that could mean that he remains in Chicago while a guy like Morin and/or Pirri is sent packing.
Nordstrom doesn’t have much in the way of upside but if he keeps a young talent like Brandon Pirri or Jeremy Morin off the roster then he’ll have made a fantasy impact.
Anaheim Calling takes a look at the Ducks’ power play:
Projected First Unit: Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne, Francois Beauchimin, Cam Fowler.
A few thoughts on this…
I can’t see Selanne sticking on the top unit for the full season. He was really banged up and fell out of favour towards the end of last season. I fear he may be hanging on too long. I would suspect another forward to make his way onto that top unit in his stead.
I also wonder how long Cam Fowler lasts if his play doesn’t improve. He is a nice bounce-back candidate but with Sami Vatanen waiting in the wings Fowler will have to prove himself.
Colton Sceviour Making Another Strong Case for NHL Spot with Dallas Stars:
The limited offensive upside and energetic, defensive prowess of the average NHL fourth line player is not a very sexy topic.
So Colton Sceviour got himself noticed by the Dallas Stars fanbase in a different way last night by scoring two big second period goals, assisting on a third and adding an empty netter to complete the hat trick.
Carter Hutton is not playing well for the Predators so far and they may be considering other options:
Francois Gagnon of RDS said tonight on Habs broadcast that Preds have interest in Jose Theodore if backup options in camp don't work out.— Jim Diamond (@diamondhockey) September 26, 2013
With Ryan Jones getting waived on Wednesday the Oilers forwards are now set and their bottom two lines look downright awful:
The #Oilers bottom 7 will be Acton, Arcobello, Brown, Eager, Hamilton, Joensuu, MacIntyre.— Copper & Blue (@CopperandBlue) September 25, 2013
Copper & Blue attempts to project Taylor Hall’s production this season:
Entering his fourth season in the NHL, there are very high expectations of Hall for the upcoming campaign. He was the first first overall pick to emerge from the womb, and he has improved rapidly as each season progresses. Can he continue his trend upwards? Let's have a deeper look and try to predict what his points output will be this season.
Personally, I have him for about 70 points in 70 games.
TSN released their Top 50 Players on Wednesday. I wouldn’t put any stock in this list for your fantasy league but it is important to consider where the popular opinion is at, which might help you identify players who will be overvalued in your pool.
Check out the latest from DownGoesBrown on Phil Kessel’s suspension hearing, it’s pure gold.
Jeff Angus gives us his top 10 left-wingers in the NHL:
9. Evander Kane – In a year or two, Kane will be among the top two or three on this list. But he still has some growing and developing to do as a hockey player. He is an extremely dynamic talent and has the size and strength to dominate opposing defensemen physically, while possessing the speed and skill to deke around them. Kane needs to learn to use his teammates better (to be fair, he played most of the time with a way-over-the-hill Olli Jokinen last season), but he is right on track in terms of development.
I teamed up with The Hockey Writers’ Anatoliy Metter on a piece for Canada’s Olympic website – 10 Must Have Potential Canadian Olympians. None of the names will surprise you in the least but I had some fun with it nonetheless.
Speaking of Metter, he’s got five sleepers for you to consider for your fantasy pool:
While fantasy managers might have taken note of Wilson’s prowess last season, there is still a possibility that his stock might have fallen in the draft rankings. Not only has Wilson shown steady progress in each of his last three seasons with the Predators, he has also seen his ice-time rise consistently over the last three years, and even logged a career-high 16:34 average time on ice last season before sustaining his injury. Fantasy managers should absolutely snag Wilson on draft day or pluck him from the waiver wire in their respective leagues as the forward will be given key minutes on Nashville’s top line.
EA Sports NHL 14 Simulation has predicted the St. Louis Blues to win the Stanley Cup this season. Take that for what you will.